Life is full of stories – some left forgotten in the dust while some others we cherished in a pedestal. But there will always be that one story – one that left its mark on us and alter us forever. One story that we hold the closest to our heart. One that we would not trade for anything else in the world. And La La Land is exactly that – a story of a lifetime.
In the City of Angels, a young hopeful actress Mia Dolan (Emma Stone) met an idealist jazz pianist Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling). And so, in a true Hollywood fashion, stories unfold…
There are movies that were so beautifully constructed it blew our mind, but did not move our heart. Then there are movies that made us felt all sorts of emotions despite being a full blown guilty pleasure. On rare days, though, we came across a movie that hit all the right mark on both counts. La La Land is one of those precious gem. It hooked me from the very start through a combination of intricate one long take and catchy song. And it was actually just a taste of what’s to come. It was a 128 minutes of magnificent theatrical blocking and light play, excellent cinematography and camera work, combined with catchy tunes and pleasing choreography. It was insane. And it bedazzled me so until I didn’t realized that I walked straight into Damien Chazelle’s emotional trap. Next thing I know, I’m in too deep in their story.
Arguably, La La Land is so much more than just a story between two dreamers in Los Angeles. It was a love letter to Hollywood, to the glamours and heartbreaks behind the scenes. To changed lives and trashed hopes, to sell outs and wasted chances, to fame and the thorn filled road for it – but especially to that exhilarating feeling of having someone to fight for – and to fight with. It was a timeless tale about two rose-colored souls who found their way to each other in the city of lights and
broken dreams. Theirs, was a story of a lifetime. Perhaps, that is why La La Land felt both as familiar as your favorite scent and as fresh as a new day. We all have that one story we just couldn’t forget, don’t we? Tried as we might, it was the story that defined us and brought us to this point in time. The story that made us questioned: given the chance, would we relieve it all over again or did things differently? Because, even years after we thought we’ve moved on, we still found ourselves musing about it at the oddest times. After all, it will always be our favorite “what if”.
And it was La La Land’s ability to captured all those melancholy and frenzied feelings that made it so deliciously magical. Damien Chazelle weaved a captivating sentimental tale, and made good use of our own tendency to presume as he played with our emotions. Oh at first, La La Land seems like it’d be just another romantic comedy with musical gimmick and eye-pleasing visual. But it was his trap. Utilizing cues from a trope we’re all too familiar with, he lured us in through the guise of an idyllic enchantment. Then with the help of a neat narrative and gorgeous cinematic experience, he stole our breath away. Like someone has turned the light all around us until there’s nothing but us and the unfolding allegory on the silver screen.
It was impossible, really, not to fall for Emma Stone and/or Ryan Gosling. They were just endearing, with such apparent chemistry that lingered even long after I left the cinema. Mia and Sebastian has the kind of sparks that reminded me of Jesse and Celine… and of a certain favorite “what if” of mine. It’s the kind you’d treasured and protected in a glass box, away from all harms. I wouldn’t say Stone and Gosling were perfect as Mia and Sebastian, but they were true. For those 128 minutes, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling didn’t existed. They were Mia Dolan and Sebastian Wilder. And it’s all there, in their exchanges and expression and the way they gazed at each other. And with the help of Linus Sandgren, Chazelle exploited that beautifully. Those close ups felt like being let in on a secret, like witnessing a private moment that sealed your gaze even though you knew you should probably turn away because you were intruding.
La La Land, for me, was like lounging in a garden at dusk with a box of memorabilia from my favorite “what if”. Like shifting through places and happenstances, relishing each little things that I still hold dear, even though I’ve let go for quite a while now. A bittersweet warmth that made me smile and lament at the same time. Through an adept combination of theater’s blocking and lighting with enthralling cinematography and eargasmic tunes, Damien Chazelle took me on an eminent cinematic experience unlike any other. Truly, La La Land was pure magic on the silver screen.
Director: Damien Chazelle. Writer: Damien Chazelle. Released on: 9 December 2016 (United States), 10 January 2017 (Indonesia). Casts: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons.